Waymo dumps its waitlist and opens up its San Francisco robotaxi service to everyone

Waymo Dumps Its Waitlist And Opens Up Its San Francisco Robotaxi Service To Everyone

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Waymo no longer has a waitlist for its San Francisco robotaxi service, removing the final obstacle for customers keen to use the self-driving technology. 

Waymo said Tuesday that anyone can download the app and then immediately hail one of its robotaxis in San Francisco — a move that mimics the Alphabet-owned company’s strategy in Phoenix, its first driverless taxi market. The announcement comes just a couple of weeks since Waymo voluntarily issued a software recall to all 672 of its Jaguar I-Pace robotaxis after one of them collided with a telephone pole. The Alphabet-owned company recalled previous software in February after two of its robotaxis crashed into the same pickup truck that was being towed by a tow truck.

Waymo has had a presence in the San Francisco area since 2009, but it wasn’t until last year that the company was able to charge customers — 24 hours a day and throughout the city — for rides in its fleet of self-driving Jaguar I-Pace vehicles. 

Waymo established a waitlist, which nearly 300,000 people signed up for, following the approval. Over time, the company opened the service to waiting customers. With the waitlist numbers now dwindling to a few hundred, Waymo decided to remove it altogether. 

Waymo secured another key approval in March from the California Public Utilities Commission to operate a commercial robotaxi service in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Peninsula and on San Francisco freeways. Waymo has not yet expanded its driverless commercial operations to San Francisco freeways or communities in the greater Peninsula, although the company is testing in those areas. Instead, Waymo’s San Francisco fleet of 300 robotaxis is used within the city limits. Waymo has more than 700 robotaxis in its total fleet, which is spread between commercial markets in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco as well as testing locations in Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas.

According to Waymo’s internal stats, the service has proven popular. The company said Tuesday that it gives tens of thousands of trips each week in San Francisco, a similar number as Phoenix. Waymo said more than half of its San Francisco customers used its robotaxis in the past couple of months to travel to or from medical appointments, according to data from a company survey. About 36% used Waymo to connect to other forms of transit, like BART or Muni.


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